DIY Prayer Retreat #11: Releasing Reality

Hi everyone, 

I led our contemplative groups’ monthly retreat in June and this is what I used. For instructions and guidelines to help you lead a DIY, check here.

May you be blessed as you open yourself to God in the silence.

Releasing Reality


Recorded by Steve Bell on PILGRIMAGE
Song by Alana Levandoski (used with permission)

He who watches over you will never slumber or sleep.
O my child, lay your burdens down.
Lay them at my feet.
He who watches over you will never slumber or sleep.


In the light of the high heavens
and the infinity of dawnings in space,
in the darkness of ocean depths
and the sea’s ceaseless waves,
in the glistening of a creature’s eyes
and the dark life-blood that ever flows,
in every emanation of creation’s life
and the warmth that moves my body,
in the inner universe of the soul
and its everlasting foundations
your glory glows, O God.
In every shining of the world’s inwardness
and the warmth that moves my everliving soul your glory glows.

–John Philip Newell,  Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter  (Material Media: San Antonio) 37.


Someone gave me two situations in which she found it difficult to be aware. She was in a service industry where many people were lined up, many phones were ringing, and she was alone and there were distractions coming from a lot of uptight, angry people. She found it extremely difficult to maintain serenity and calm. The other situation was when she was driving in traffic, with horns blowing and people shouting four-letter words. She asked me whether eventually that nervousness would dissipate and she could remain at peace.

Do you pick up the attachment there? Peace. Her attachment to peace and calm. She was saying, “Unless I’m peaceful, I won’t be happy.” Did it ever occur to you that you could be happy in tension? Before enlightenment I used to be depressed; after enlightenment, I continue to be depressed. You don’t make a goal out of relaxation and sensitivity. Have you ever heard of people who get tense trying to relax? If one is tense, one simply observes one’s tension. You will never understand yourself if you seek to change yourself. The harder you try to change yourself, the worse it gets. You are called upon to be aware. Get the feel of that jangling telephone; get the feel of jarred nerves; get the sensation of the steering wheel in the car. In other words, come to reality, and let tension or the calmness take care of itself. As a matter of fact, you will have to let them take care of themselves because you’ll be too preoccupied with getting in touch with reality. Step by step, let whatever happens happen. Real change will come when it is brought about, not by your ego, but by reality. Awareness releases reality to change you. Anthony de Mello, Awareness p. 144-145


  • What is in my reality right now? What awareness is it releasing?
  • What do you think you need to be happy? How would you fill in the blank? Unless I have _____, I won’t be happy.
  • What emerges in you as you see yourself holding onto what you think you need? Get the feel of it. Stay there with God and let whatever happens happen.


  • Notice the beauty in Creation around you as you walk. What is inviting you to spend time with it?  (e.g. a tree, plant, bird, the sky, the earth)
  • Engage with what draws you. Using your senses, touch it, smell it, gaze at it. Notice its colours and textures and unique attributes.
  • Listen to what it is saying to you and the reality being released in your life. What do you want to say to it? How might God be loving you through this gift of creation?

See the whole universe,
not only as something to love,
but as something that can love you back.
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 

THE RIVER by Coco Love Alcorn

The river is a healer 
The river is a sage 
The river knows no end  
And the river feels no age 
The river is a leader  
Every single day 
It’s living in the moment  
And it always finds a way 

Water heal my body
Water heal my soul
When I go down, down
To the water
By the water I feel whole

The river calls me over 
It’s calling out my name 
In the day and in the night 
I hear that river all the same 
It’s calling me over 
Calling out my pain 
Oh a river gathers tears  
Just like a river gathers rain 

The river is a traveller  
Always on the go 
A river never worries  
If it’s fast or if it’s slow 
River take me 
To where I need to go  
Oh, and I will just relax  
And let the river flow 

PSALM 16 Conserva me, Domine (Grail version, adapted)

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: “You are my God.
My happiness lies in you alone.”

You have put into my heart a marvellous love.
Those who choose other gods increase their sorrows.

O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.
The lot marked out for me is my delight:
welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me!

I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep you ever in my sight:
since you are at my right hand, I shall stand firm.

And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.

You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.

Silence awakens us to the fullness of life below the surface.

Image Credits:
“Glory Prayer” by John Philip Newell used with permission.
“Sunrise” by Susanne Nilsson . Used with permission.
“Bark Cabin Natural Area” by  Nicholas A. Tonelli. Used with permission.
“Vulcan Stream” by Reza. Used with permission.
The last photo was taken of an image I chose in a prayer exercise at the SoulStream partners’ retreat in early June.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows:
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2018.

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
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